Enerco Energy’s wind survey mast at Umma More, Moyvoughley, pictured last year.

First planning step lodged for local wind farm

The first planning steps in the possible development of a nine-turbine windfarm in the Moyvoughley area of South Westmeath were lodged with An Bord Pleanála recently.

Cork-based company Enerco Energy is behind the proposal, which centres on an area between Moyvoughley and Drumraney, about 3km from the village of Ballymore.

On April 14 last, a bid for a pre-application consultation on the project was lodged with An Bord Pleanála by Umma More Ltd.

The development was described, in the pre-application bid, as a wind farm "of approximately nine wind turbines," along with "all associated works".

Umma More Ltd also sought a pre-application consultation on "a 110kV substation and grid connection cabling to the existing Thornsberry 110kV substation in County Offaly."

The applications to An Bord Pleanála will determine whether or not the proposal can be considered a strategic infrastructure development.

Strategic infrastructure developments are defined as projects of "strategic economic or social importance to Ireland, the region or local areas."

If An Bord Pleanála determines that this project is a strategic development, the subsequent planning application would then be made directly to the board, thus bypassing Westmeath County Council's planning process.

The proposed wind farm has attracted opposition from a number of local residents, and a Facebook page entitled 'No to Wind Farm in Ballymore, Drumraney, Moyvoughley Area' has been active since 2019.

The wind farm was initially named the Ballynacorra Renewable Energy Development. Its name was changed recently to the Umma More Renewable Energy Development, with Umma More being a townland in which the project would be situated.

The website of the Umma More project states that it would be located "approximately 7km to the north of Moate town" and would "provide a significant contribution to achieving the country's renewable energy targets and assist in reducing Ireland's dependency on fossil fuels."

It said the initiative would "generate direct and indirect local jobs" and would "provide investment in the area through local authority rates contributions."

The website also includes a letter addressed to local residents, dated April 27 last, from Enerco Energy's community liaison officer on the project, James Crowley.

Mr Crowley said that, since last July, "the project environmental consultants have been working hard to ensure that all possible environmental impacts are examined and considered in the design of the proposed development.

"Surveying has been ongoing for the last number of months, and you may have noticed some activity in the area," he added.

A map outlined the "draft turbine layout" of the nine wind turbines, and Mr Crowley said this proposed layout involved setback distances of 750m, 1km, and 2km from each turbine.

A wind monitoring mast was erected on behalf of Enerco Energy in the locality last year, in order to year to help assess the site's suitability for a windfarm. Parts of the mast fell down on two occasions, last year and at the beginning of this year.

The outcome of the pre-application process, to determine whether or not this project is a strategic infrastructure development, is due to be decided by An Bord Pleanála by August 17.